Summer Reading: Getting creative to help refugees in Germany

Project Reconnect grantees help refugees rebuild their lives in Germany by facilitating access to online education, language learning, and other information resources. The organizations and initiatives are supporting a wide range of projects using the Chromebooks donated by Project Reconnect. 

The following short stories were shared with us over the past year. They illustrate how creative organisations and initiatives are getting to help thousands of refugees in Germany. 



Internationaler Bund: Studying for a job in Germany

June 2016. At IB West in Cologne 21 Chromebooks are supporting refugee learners. The location offers four courses in two classrooms with Chromebooks, two courses in the morning and two in the afternoon. Chromebooks are used in class to deepen the understanding of topics discussed, such as current affairs and cultural differences and after class to practice vocabulary and to design a resume with the help of online templates. They are used to search for vocational training offers on the platform and to study German with online offers such as The main objective of the activities of IB West is to bring refugees into more qualified jobs through training. 


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Refugees Online: Turning experiences into songs and poems

October 2016. Ali Hiner enjoys writing lyrics and accompanies himself on the guitar. But at home, in Syria, there is war. This is the reason why Ali fled. In Germany, he now lives in a refugee home with other Syrian refugees. He still wirtes poems and songs. In these he describes his his new situation in Germany - in German. The Chromebooks in the accomodation have brought him an idea: to start a blog, through which he can share his texts with other people. Why does he write in German? "I would like to show other refugees that it is worth learning German. Because German is not just the language for an appointment in the office." For him German is also the language for songs and poems. 


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Kiron Open Higher Education: A refugee student becomes member of the Kiron team 

October 2016. Saeed, a 27-year-old refugee from Syria, discovered Kiron in the summer of 2016, almost a year after he arrived in Germany. He quickly registered via Smartphone to become a student. As Saeed didn't own a computer, he was excited to learn that he could use Chromebooks to access his courses at an improvised study hub in the Kiron offices in Munich. He not only studies regularly with the Chromebooks, but also uses it to gather information about German asylum application process and his rights as a refugee or simply to correspond with e-mails. He liked the idea of the study hubs so much that he started recruiting other refugees for Kiron. His efforts paid off. "Chromebooks not only gave me the opportunity to pursue my studies with Kiron and help me navigate through the German bureaucracy jungle, but I also got to met the Kiron Team in Munich. Now, they even offered me a job to work in the first Munich Study Hub!" Since October there is a "real" study hub in Munich, where Saeed works as a paid coordinator. He will continue to take courses at Kiron, but thanks to the Chromebooks he now has a job and is a valued member of the Kiron team.  


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Refugees Emancipation: An internet café from refugees for refugees

December 2016. Refugees Emancipation is an organisation run by refugees operating in Berlin and Potsdam. They are present at eight different locations where they provide internet access to other refugees and set up Internet cafés, where they deployed the Chromebooks granted by NetHope. Especially the kids expressed high interest in using the internet and they were (one of) the first to use the Chromebooks under supervision of the coordinators. Right now they are working on coming up with a system that makes it possible for the refugees, to borrow and use a Chromebook outside the internet café and the usual opening hours. 


© Michael König

© Michael König

TeachCom Edutainment: The Estrel Job Fair offers interested refugees the opportunity to get internships, trainings and jobs

January 2017. TeachCom Edutainment took part in the Estrel Job Fair where interested refugees have the opportunity to learn about and apply for internships, vocational training programs and even jobs. TeachCom provided information about their course offers with Chromebooks. They also used the sponsored laptops for a visitor survey. “We will evaluate the results together. They should help to improve the job fair.” explains Thomas Nittka from TeachCom. It was a great success. "I am very satisfied with the visitors' attendance, there were numerous interesting candidates who will be invited to talks." says one of the exhibitors at Estrel.



GMS in der Taus: Age appropriate language portals help children in the refugee class learn German

May 2017. The students at ‘Gemeinschaftsschule in der Taus’, a school in Backnang with kids age 6 to 16, come from 27 different countries, including Pakistan, Tunisia and Kazakhstan. In addition the school hosts two classes dedicated to preparing refugee students to participate in regular classes. Many of the students are from Syria. The refugee classes bring together kids from different age groups - and their knowledge of German varies. That’s why Matthias Mayer, the German language teacher for the refugee classes, decided to use multiple online language portals, so every student can learn at the level at which he actually is and in an age-appropriate approach. The younger children play the game „Lern Deutsch – Stadt der Wörter“ of the Goethe-Institut which leads through everyday situations and which the children can play against each other. Older students use the language course of Deutsch-Akademie. There they find tasks from the beginner level up to liquid language usage. 


German Red Cross Westfalen-Lippe: 5-member Syrian family finds new apartment online

June 2017. A family from Syria had been searching for an apartment for months. The father was able to bring his wife and his three children from Syria via Turkey to Herford in North Rhine-Westfalia, Germany. They were temporarily able to live with the family father’s sister and brother-in-law and their six children. The living situation was becoming more and more difficult. The mother was seeking help at the migration advice center of the German Red Cross in Herford. Employees of the German Red Cross and migration counseling center helped her search for accommodations online. They quickly found a suitable apartment. After completing the formalities, the family was able to move into the new apartment within two weeks. The initially empty apartment was gradually filled with furniture and household items, which the family found over the Internet, again using a Chromebook.


Asylplus: Volunteer tutor helps refugee gain confidence in speaking German

June 2017. Rachid is a calm, reserved man. He spoke little, and hardly dared to say a sentence in German when he visited an Asylplus learning center for the first time. He was not familiar with computers, but that changed quickly. He soon started studying German with the online content from Goethe-Verlag, a publishing house which provides support texts in Arabic, Rachid’s native language. In addition, Rachid signed up for online language tutoring with “Volunteer Vision” and was matched with a corporate volunteer who tutors him in a live video chat once a week for an hour. Rachid uses a Chromebook at the local library for his tutoring sessions. He has been a different person ever since he started practicing with his tutor. He is more confident and dares to communicate in German and to ask questions - and he smiles. He continues to make great progress. Now he plans to attend an entry-level Cisco online course to learn more about computers and the Internet.



Flüchtlingshilfe Karlsruhe: Young refugees build custom longboards 

June 2017. Every Tuesday, the nonprofit “jubez” invites kids and teens from Karlsruhe and refugee children to a woodworking workshop. The goal is to “create n roll”, to build a longboard and get rolling. Professional help is at hand. The young refugees use Chromebooks to look for photos and graphics, which they then transfer to the wood of their longboards. Many choose themes that remind them of their homeland. 
The workshop and joint interest make it easy to overcome language and age barriers and build friendship across cultures.


Volkshochschule Marburg: A young mother learns German to work as a nurse again 

July 2017. Hedle Hac Ahmed is 19 years young. She came to Germany two years ago. She was born and grew up in Syria. Hedle could not participate in a German language course for a long time because she has a little son. Miran was born in Stadtallendorf in Hessen 15 months ago, and already understands a little bit German. Hedle is very happy that she can finally learn German, because she found Miran a place in daycare and she herself got accepted for the 3-months entry level course "Einstieg Deutsch" at the adult education center in Marburg. The course combines classroom learning with guided self- study sessions where online exercises are used to deepen the content covered in class. Hedle is very committed to studying German. Even though it is sometimes difficult for her, she is happy about her progress. She wants to work as a nurse in Germany, like she did in her home country. She hopes to get a place in the more comprehensive integration course soon, so she can quickly get closer to her goal. 



Save the Children: Digital citizenship for families in refugee homes

August 2017. Although many children and youth currently residing at refugee shelters across Germany are using various technical devices for internet connectivity, the internet still bears risks for them and their data security. There is no system currently in place which coherently explains these risks to them, or even protects them. For over two years now, Save the Children has been working to strengthen and promote child protection in refugee shelters through various programs, activities, and advocacy work. One focus in the area of child protection is in the area of digital citizenship. Through our media-educational approach, we want to relay to children and youth, but also to parents and staff at refugee shelters, how to safely use the internet and computers. Save the Children implements course cycles at different shelters, each time training one or more staff members who will remain on site to carry on the courses and provide IT support. For this purpose, some of the Chromebooks remain at each site following the successful implementation of a training cycle. Modules making up each training cycle range from “Basic Internet ABC”, where children learn how to use browsers and search engines, what the associated risks are and how they can protect their data, to “Khan Academy” educational resources for math’s, sciences and German, to “Introduction to Computer Sciences” where they are introduced to programming in a play-focused and child-friendly way.


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ADIA Erding: Successful model for digital learning

August 2017. Learning with digital media is becoming standard in most classes. Thanks to ADIA Erding, the students in a refugee class in Taufkirchen/Vils in Bavaria have enough Chromebooks in their classroom, to allow each student to explore the possibilities of the Internet, either alone or with a partner. Important is that the students are guided in the learning process. Teachers prepare worksheets with exercises for which students use the Chromebooks. A typical task is: Which words do you not understand? Use your Chromebook and Google translator, then write the translation above the word. This allows students to work on more difficult texts. Other tasks are finding the right German articles or using online exercises to deepen the understanding of  what is taught in the textbooks. Refugee classes are very heterogeneous. Students come from different educational backgrounds and are at different stages in their learning. The Chromebooks are well suited to support individual learners at the level they are at. Learning gets more personalized - an approach that might become a model for other heterogeneous classes in Bavaria.  


Post by Theresa Ritzer, NetHope - Project Reconnect